Neurosurgeon defends his position on Angelo Agrizzi's fitness to stand trial

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi attended the hearing virtually.
Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi attended the hearing virtually.
Image: Ernest Mabuza

A neurosurgeon who examined Angelo Agrizzi told the Pretoria high court it was the first time he had been asked to testify on a person's fitness to stand trial.

This emerged during cross-examination of Dr Herman Edeling on Wednesday, the second day of an inquiry into the former Bosasa COO's fitness to do so.

Agrizzi fell ill in October 2020 and has since been unable to attend two cases in which he is charged. 

Edeling said he stopped operating on patients in 2008 and began treating, assessing and investigating brain injury cases in patients referred to him by lawyers.

He told state advocate Arno Rossouw that the defence asked for his opinion on whether Agrizzi was neurologically fit to stand trial.

While he had not dealt with this before, he had often testified regarding a person's mental capacity, Edeling said.

He had testified in cases regarding contested wills, where a deceased's mental capability in drawing up such a document was questioned, he added. 

He also testified on whether those who had suffered brain injuries in car accidents were mentally fit to manage their affairs. 

“I apply my mind and give opinions. This is the first time I have been asked whether a person can stand trial,” Edeling said.

He testified on Tuesday that Agrizzi had impaired brain function due to multiple medical conditions and as a result was not neurologically fit to stand trial.   

Edeling also dealt with the affidavit of neurologist Dr Lize Steyn, who criticised the manner in which he came to conclusions on Agrizzi's condition. Steyn was appointed by the state to examine Agrizzi.

The first criticism was that Edeling did not perform a physical examination when he met Agrizzi in March last year.

Edeling said this was immaterial as his purpose was to examine Agrizzi's brain function. He said the method of clinically examining brain status was by talking to a patient and asking questions.

Steyn also said Edeling came to his conclusion based on medical notes after Agrizzi was admitted to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in October 2020. He was hospitalised there after being denied bail in one of the cases he faces.

Edeling said it was acceptable for one to arrive at conclusions based on medical records.

Agrizzi's advocate, Mannie Witz, asked Edeling to make medical observations on Agrizzi, who attended the inquiry virtually from home.

“I understand Mr Agrizzi is in court in this manner in video streaming to exercise his right to be present. My observation is that Mr Agrizzi does not seem to be following proceedings and cannot be said to be meaningfully participating in these proceedings,” Edeling said.

Edeling's cross-examination continues.

Meanwhile, the tender fraud case in which Agrizzi is charged with former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti, the department’s former CFO Patrick Gillingham and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder, was on Wednesday provisionally postponed until July 20 pending the outcome of this inquiry.

The court heard Mti has been in hospital since March 26.


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